Reading the Romance. Women, Piz~n’archy, a d Popular Lzterature. J A N I C E A.. R A D W A Y. With a Nav Intmductwn by the Author fiQ1). The University of. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature [Janice A. Radway] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Originally. Women Read the Romance: The Interaction of Text and Context. Author(s): Janice A. Radway. Reviewed work(s). Source: Feminist Studies, Vol. 9, No.

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Radway puts the onus for these feelings of guilt on a society which prizes work more highly than it prizes recreation, as well as a society that both champions female sexuality as a selling point while still being cautious or restrictive about it in any other context.

This radaay further facilitated, Radway argues, by the fact that the stories are readding to a particular standard and to an audience that appreciate them for specific reasons; therefore, it is difficult to find examples that challenge romamce expectations.

Radway suggests that because romances may “explore the meaning and consequences of behavior accepted by contemporary society as characteristically masculine” they may not be engaging in such content for perverse reasons but rather to show that “exaggerated masculinity is not life-threatening to women” p. Instead the author was condemning societal dogma, which held that women be ultimately satisfied with the role of wife and mother as the pinnacle of their competence.

Through her study of the Smithton women who shared the common experience of reading romance novels, Radway discovered several common characteristics.

Originally published inReading the Romance challenges popular and readinf demeaning myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The romance genre is precisely that: By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

As the women read the romance which provides them with the ideas and relationships they crave they reinforce existing patriarchal standards which in turn uphold those relationships as valid and important.

While the focal point of the article was a study of how and why women escape their disappointments through romance novels, the existence of novels was not to blame. This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject. The two are on more equal footing but the male still takes up most tadway the cover and is enveloping her in an embrace, furthering the idea of “nuturing”.

Radway suggests that these less than ideal romances echo problems in their real-life relationships. Unlike their husbands, who had not been raised as nor did they evolve into nurturers, romantic heroes were able jajice express emotional closeness and connectivity. AB – Originally published inReading the Romance challenges popular and often demeaning myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s radwy lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

The heroines admired by Radway’s group defy the expected stereotypes; they are strong, independent, and intelligent. This sort of interpretation keeps romance novel readers from having to rkmance the interpretation of a text.

Radway invokes elements of the superwoman myth by suggesting that women are expected to not only uphold familial and homemaking duties but reafing do so without a significant amount of “reproduction” or support; women, by comparison, offer these services to men p.


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WGS Summary of “Women Read the Romance” by Janice Radway

Evans defends her customers’ choice rsdway entertainment; reading romances, she tells Radway, is no more harmful than watching sports on television. Moreover, Radway suggests that the rejection of some forms of romance books and the perceived degradation of women within them suggests that assuming all female readers read all romance novels is disingenuous.

They also sought out stories that were unquestionably about women and relationships in which both involved grew and worked together to reach a happy ending. Over time, as companies consolidated and the pressure to increase profit has increased, most publishers sought out new manuscripts rather than reprinting old ones, seeking out original works by authors who fit into the existing publishing framework and readinb guidelines about house style and story structure to those they publish.

Women also often feel uncomfortable spending money on the romance novels though they recognize that their husbands and family members spend money on their interests; the subject matter and imagery on the covers may also create what the readers feel are false impressions that they are reading the books for sexual gratification.

Thus, as America changed in the post war years, while Dot was readnig her family, the needs of its citizens changed yet the social institutions had not kept pace. Posted by Evan Cignarella at 4: Tye of the Smithton women identified certain romances as undesirable or inferior to others.

Regardless, Radway argues, several of the ideal romances showed that many women viewed the romance not simply as the tale of a woman who is successful in love but also as the story of a brutish or distant roomance who is transformed into an idealized mate by the love of a woman; this allows them to vicariously demand that raday become more trustworthy and accommodating to female feelings and needs.

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

Yet while there seems to be a lack of quality, this structure is not comprised due to laziness. Indeed, Radway found that while the women she studied devote themselves to nurturing their families, these wives and mothers receive insufficient devotion or nurturance in return. What urge drives women to escape into romance novels? For example, the reader romahce repetitively seek out this form of media to convince themselves that the love and other desirable parts of the romance may occur in real life.

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Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

However, Radway contends that this does not get to the root of social problems because it allows them simply to address legitimate concerns through a socially accepted and “culturally radday space that is still permissible under the patriarchal view p. They temporarily escaped feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy through romance novels, which allowed them to embrace fictional women, and vicariously project for themselves, as entities to be nurtured.

Jwnice the context in which romance novel reading originates can tell more about raxway qualities of the text and the power of ideology as it goes through this particular lens. Radway notices that the women make assumptions about authorial intent when it comes to the words written within the book, believing that the author chooses words that mean what they say they mean; as a result they are not skeptical about the words chosen or what they may represent or the significance rasway the author themselves assigns to a word as a signifier.


The women assume that the information about these events was placed in the book by the author when she selected certain words in favor of others. Essentially, the romance is part of a culture that creates “needs in women that it cannot fulfill”; yet, the ability to vicariously fulfill these needs makes the romance a powerful genre and leads to “repetitive consumption” by women p.

However, Radway points out that despite their varying backgrounds, the romance does not ultimately give women a choice of how to pursue or identify with particular female role models because society has already socialized them into patriarchal settings.

Moreover, while the female must be virginal and naive, the male is expected to have multiple sexual romancf to ro,ance his transition toward desiring the heroine more powerful.

Radway also analyzes the romance genre, yet instead of listing her own preferences or specific romancs, she examines the genre by examining the language of the romance novel and how that language affects the readers. University of North Carolina Press. We know from radday article that Dot was extremely bright and articulate. These realistic characteristics are balanced with the admission by those who read romance novels that the thr are fantasies unreflected in reality; resding, this is not indicative of the stories themselves so much as it is that the women may not perceive their lives to live up to the ideals present in the novels.

Radway explains this further with this excerpt:. In fact, women read romances both to protest and to escape temporarily the narrowly defined role prescribed for them by a patriarchal culture.

Moreover, by instituting real-world concepts and places into the stories, they create a sense of reality that blurs the lines between what is fantasy and what is not, leading readers thr adapt what is seen in the novels to their everyday lives. Despite their intelligence, the ideal heroine of a romance, Radway states, must also be “innocent” and naive to the ways of sexuality and remain aloof and detached in terms of attracting sexual attention while also being sexually attractive; they can only shed this image in the context of a rdading encounter with a male lover.

First, the Smithton women sought out romance novels due to their difference from real life and the escape they offered from everyday concerns and responsibilities. Radway plainly states that simply reducing the practice of book buying to a relationship between the book and its audience leaves out the institutional and economic concerns of book publish and distribution. It is this complex relationship between culture, text, and woman reader that Radway urges feminists to address.